“It is about caramelizing sugars,” explains Thomas Doyle, a fifteen-year coffee roasting veteran and co-owner, with his wife Julia, of Assembly Coffee Roasters in Pittsfield. The coffee bean, he points out, is a cherry seed; roasting coffee is really just the process of applying heat over a period of time to caramelize the sugars in that seed. Julia jumps in, “That’s why coffee really shouldn’t be bitter!”
Business of the Month
“It’s about way more than just skiing.” So says Lucinda Vermeulen, owner of Kenver, Ltd. the outdoor specialty store in South Egremont that is famous for its atmosphere.
When Lucinda’s late husband Ken Vermeulen founded the business with Ernie Beckwith in Great Barrington in 1959, the focus of the business was rather different. Both men were avid hunters and outdoorsmen and, Lucinda laughs, “if you can imagine, they used to hang deer on Railroad Street, with everybody walking around in neon orange!”
Soon, however, Ken Vermeulen moved the business to its current location in Egremont. The iconic building, which dates back to 1731 and once served as a stagecoach stop, had been decimated by fire, but the beautiful marble floors, high ceilings, and original beams were still intact, and they captured Vermeulen’s fancy.
BerkShares, Inc. is a membership-directed non-profit organization focused on responsible economic development in the Berkshire region. BerkShares, Inc. has worked in partnership with local businesses and community banks to issue BerkShares, a local currency for the Berkshire Region. BerkShares help to build regional identity, raise awareness about the importance of local ownership, and empower community-based economic decision-making. On October 20th, BerkShares, Inc. held its Annual Meeting, where the membership elected the following five of their fellows to join the Board of Trustees of the organization:
“Honey, I bought a brewery.” That is how Chris Post announced to the world (and in particular, to his wife) that his home brewing hobby had morphed into something more serious. At that point, Post was still working in finance in New York City, and brewing was something that happened on a two-ring burner in his apartment. But one day, while browsing eBay for home brewing equipment, he had stumbled upon the entire contents of a brewpub in Michigan, listed at “an absurdly low price.”
“I was convinced that I would be outbid, but I didn’t want to die wondering ‘what if I had taken that chance and pressed the button.’ So I pressed the button.” As it turns out, that was the beginning of Post’s adventure from banker to brewer.
“The idea that a group of people can control a business by exercising the democratic process is a very powerful one,” says Daniel Esko, General Manager at Berkshire Food Co-op. And in Great Barrington that power, aligned with a common demand for high-quality food, has led the Co-op to evolve significantly from its “humble roots on Rosseter Street,” where it was incorporated by 160 families in 1981.
If you are “fiercely local,” what is the best way to show it? By drinking local beer, of course! At Big Elm Brewing, Bill Heaton and Christine Bump and their co-founders Jen and Russell Jaehnig have set out to make the task of showing your Berkshire pride both easy and delicious.
Founded in Sheffield in 2012, Big Elm beer has fast become a staple in bars, markets, and liquor stores throughout the region. After gaining a strong foothold here over their first three years, the company signed an agreement with the Craft Brewers Guild for statewide distribution in January, which has allowed them to gain, according to Heaton, “really good traction” in the lively Boston craft beer market. And on June 9th they filled their millionth can of beer!
“I have these moments when I’m singing where everything feels exactly right,” says one young member of Berkshire Children’s Chorus, a non-profit community children’s chorus currently celebrating its 25th season. “Singing in a children’s chorus can be a very powerful and transformative experience,” agrees Artistic Director Julie Bickford. “It was in my life.”
Do all arboriculturalists drink green tea? Or is it only the crew of Barrett Tree Service? Founder and owner Winthrop Barrett laughs, “Yeah, we’re always drinking the green tea.” It’s by no means a profession-wide tradition, he explains, but it does serve a purpose. “It’s a performance drink. It gives you a nice steady buzz, whereas coffee brings you up and then you crash.” And when you’re in a business like tree care, you want an even keel.
Kemble Inn & Table Six Restaurant
2 Kemble Street, Lenox, MA
The Kemble Inn and Table Six Restaurant have grabbed ahold of BerkShares and they’re not letting go. This 13-room boutique hotel and restaurant have been all atwitter since they started accepting BerkShares a year ago.
Located across from Trinity Church in Lenox, the Kemble Inn has been under the ownership of Scott Shortt since 2010. Shortt has been
“The pottery is very quiet,” insists Daniel Bellow, owner of Daniel Bellow Porcelain. And if you see his work you’re sure to agree. Its strength is not in being flashy or cute, but rather in its gravity, simplicity, and its feel. “This is manufacturing,” Bellow says, “can’t you see the clay under my fingernails?”
Bellow has been a full time potter for the past
If you have BerkShares in your pocket and you feel like taking an autumn drive on the back roads of Berkshire County, this is a good time to visit Rawson Brook Farm. Even though most of Susan Sellew’s sales of Monterey Chevre are to local grocery stores and restaurants, selling
Trevor Cobb has been “racing and riding since he can remember,” says Olivia Norton, co-owner, with Trevor, of Treyson Racin,’ a parts and accessories service and maintenance shop on Route 7 in Great Barrington. Treyson Racin’ specializes in the vehicles that Trevor grew up with—ATVs
Can you guess which BerkShares business owes its existence to a fluke at a flea market? Phyllis Webb says The Magic Fluke Company would never have happened if her brother—a guitar player in the music industry—had not found a vintage ukulele at an L.A. flea market and realized “Gee, I could do with four strings what I’ve been doing all my life with six.” After